Senate okays petroleum host-community bill, others for second reading

PHOTO: SweetCrudeReports

• Seeks halt to Port Harcourt refinery concessioning
• NNPC suspends oil search in Chad Basin over insecurity of personnel

The Senate yesterday passed into second reading the Petroleum Host-Community Bill 2017 among other bills not captured in the already passed Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

Other bills passed with it are the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill 2017 and the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, 2017.

In his lead debate, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Gas), Kabir Marafa, said the host-community bill was unique because it recognises the pitfalls of past efforts and was structured to bring direct funding for the development of the petroleum host-communities under the direction and control of the communities themselves.

Also, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Omotayo Alasoadura, said that the primary purpose of the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill is to make for “fully developed fiscally sustainable, safe, secure, environmentally-friendly, efficient and integrated petroleum operations for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.”

In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the principle of the fiscal framework bill must be a win-win for government and stakeholders.

He noted that the Petroleum Industry could not operate in isolation, as it would bring in more investments into the country.

Meanwhile, the three bills have been sent to the relevant committees for further legislative work and to report back to plenary in four weeks’ time.

In another development, the Senate yesterday resolved that the planned rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery should be halted to allow for a more open process.

In a report presented by the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on Planned Concession of the Port Harcourt Refinery to AGIP/ENI and Oando Plc, Abubakar Kyari and adopted by the Senate, lawmakers stressed that the process to rehabilitate refineries must be open, competitive and transparent, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders.

It said if the process is not transparent, it would be construed as backdoor transfer of the asset to a preferred investor.

Meanwhile, the search for crude oil in the northern part of the country has been suspended until the security situation in the region improves, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said.

Speaking in Abuja yesterday on the killing of some of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) personnel by Boko Haram, Kachikwu stated: “The NNPC has been on this work for almost six months and that goes to show that at least there was some level of stability in security in that area. It wasn’t a misguided entry into this area. Whether we will resume obviously will depend again on what security clearance is given.

If we take a position that we are not going to do things because of criminality in certain areas, literally, every part of Nigeria will stop answering to our economy; we will stop producing oil in the Niger Delta, and I think my simple answer will be that provided there is sufficient security clearance, I don’t see why we will not continue to push that experience.”

In a similar vein, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has issued a two-week ultimatum for the withdrawal of its services to Abuja and environs over the unpaid terminal benefit of workers of Seawolf Oil Field Services by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

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